Preparing for the new smoking laws

Farmers and other rural employers are being urged to make sure they are fully prepared for forthcoming anti-smoking laws.

Smoking will be banned in the workplace and enclosed public places across England from 6am on Sunday, 1 July. Wales went smoke-free on 2 April and Northern Ireland will follow on 30 April. Scotland has been smoke-free since 26 March last year.

The law, however, is complicated, not least because farms are unlike many other workplaces such as factories or offices. Farms, for example, often encompass private homes, which are exempt from the ban, as well as workplaces, which are not.

With the exception of the farmhouse, smoking will be banned in all enclosed and substantially enclosed buildings and work spaces on the farm.

The law is being introduced to protect employees and the public from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. But it applies to farms employing only family labour as well as farms with non-family employees.

A farmer who works alone would still be banned from smoking in enclosed and substantially enclosed farm buildings, said a spokesman for the Smokefree England information line set up to help businesses get to grips with the new law.



For further help, call 0800 169 1697 or visit the Smokefree website.

NFU members can obtain free initial advice from NFU CallFirst in 0870 845 8458

“The law applies to premises where members of the public attend to deliver or to receive goods and services,” said the spokesman. In this case, “members of public” would include sales reps, agronomists, vets or any other farm visitor on business.

Smoking will also be banned in tractors and farm vehicles used by more than one person, regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time. No-smoking signs must be displayed inside these vehicles and outside all smoke-free buildings.

The NFU is advising its members to consider the changes they must make so they comply with the legislation.

Michael Britten, NFU health and safety and skills development adviser, said farmers should make sure they are fully prepared. But he added: “A lot of this is going to rely on the way the law is interpreted. It is bound to be tested once it comes into effect, so we’ll have to see what happens.”

Enclosed buildings are defined as buildings which have a ceiling or roof and are wholly enclosed either on a permanent or temporary basis except for doors, windows or passageways.

Open-sided farm buildings need special consideration. The ban includes “substantially enclosed” premises, which are defined as roofed buildings with an opening or aggregate area of openings in the walls which is less than half of the walled area.


When deciding whether a building is substantially enclosed, no account should to be taken of doors, windows or other fittings. Smoking will, therefore, be banned in three-sided machinery sheds, but not in open-sided dutch barns.

Private dwellings are generally unaffected by the new law. Smokers will not be legally required to extinguish cigarettes, for instance, before embarking on an informal discussion about milk records over the kitchen table.

But if a room within the farmhouse is used as a dedicated farm office, then smoking is banned within that room at all times if it is used by more than one person who does not live at the dwelling.

  • In the farmhouse – Yes, the law does not cover private dwellings
  • In the farm office – No, it is a place of work, even if inside the farmhouse
  • Farm vehicle – No, not if used for business by more than one person
  • Tractor with cab – No, not if it is used by somebody else, too
  • Cabless tractor – Yes, it is classed as being outdoors
  • Open-top combine – Yes, although you might want to consider the fire risk
  • Dutch barn – Yes, it is not an enclosed or substantially enclosed building
  • Machinery shed – No, not even if one side is permanently open to the elements
  • Other buildings – No, not if they are enclosed or substantially enclosed
  • Outside – Yes

Source: Smokefree England

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